It could be said that the hip world of the undead has moved from the zombie horde fad that populated the last few years back to the blood sucking, easily sexed-up vampire scene. With the “Twilight” movies and books being the new midnight release craze, “True Blood” getting the green light for season two, and the popularity of the “Underworld” series, blood suckers are in when it comes to creatures of the night.
Coming out in the middle of the vampire chic craze is the live action adaptation of the manga/animated series “Blood: The Last Vampire,” the story of a half vampire, half human girl named Saya and her quest to hunt down the demon known as Onigen, an ancient evil that is responsible for killing her father.
In order to do this, she teams with an organization simply known as “The Council,” a group of black tie spooks led by the rough voiced veteran known as Michal. Noticing a large vampire/demon infestation in Japan, the council has Saya go undercover at an American Air Force base in Tokyo where she befriends repressed military brat Alice McKee.
Written by: Chris Chow
Starring: Gianna Jun, Allison Miller
Running time: 91 mins
Despite the generic plot of the movie and the not so pristine run of anime-turned-live-action flicks, “Blood” is a surprisingly entertaining time. This is mostly because of how much the film embraces its style over its substance. The entire movie used a manga-like pacing and framing to get the effect of the crossover to work. The lighting is never natural; instead it’s either pitch dark, electric red, or perpetual twilight in order to fully push the current scene’s mood.
The story’s backdrop also allows for multiple visual options. Being that the main location for the story is an American military base, based in Japan, in the early Vietnam era, all these cues show up. The soundtrack rings with old rock and roll of Buddy Holly and The Surfaries. The military grunts are all eerily similar looking to give the sense that something is very wrong with the setting while the hippy youth gives a good comparison with their flared looks. Saya dawns the classic skirted Japanese school girl look throughout the movie while the setting moves to the mountain forests of Japan to give it a classic Samurai vengeance theme.
The acting in the movie varies. Gianna Jun, who stars as Saya, trips over a few of her more clichƒ©d lines, but isn’t anything hard to watch. Alison Miler plays a decent sidekick in the Alice role, though the character herself is slightly useless to moving the plot along. The main baddie demon is played by the long legged Japanese model turned actress Koyuki, who moves cold and smooth through all her scenes, fitting her “devil with class” role.
The spooks of The Council take the movie, especially Liam Cunningham portraying the veteran Michal. Cunningham spits out every line in an unnatural scripted way, which would be a deterrent if he wasn’t supposed to be a faceless black tie agent bent on killing demons and keeping quiet about it. His robotic, gravelly voice fits his role like a glove and he may be one of the best black-tie agents seen in the theaters in quite sometime.
“Blood” suffers from its budget more than anything. The graphics are mostly cheap, Sci-Fi Channel original movie level, the fight scenes are mostly quick cuts and cheap tricks with light rather than anything impressive, and the poor blood effects are covered by the one line fix, “demon blood is different than human blood.” The demon forms of the vampires are terrible computer graphics which could have been left out without the film suffering at all.
All in all, “Blood: The Last Vampire” is a cool movie. Following in the steps of “Dick Tracey,” “Sin City” and “Watchmen,” it is a style-over-substance comic interpretation which may not change your view on life, but will get a few good wide eyed moments out of you.
Went to see BLOOD tonight.
Perfect review. Nothing in the movie is memorable except for the great job at a translation from anime/manga, with very little butchering. Kudos, i hope they make more, and ditto on the stop-motion CG animation. Poorly done.